This excerpt is from a story that previously ran in The Greenville Journal.
It’s hard work, but absolutely necessary: getting hundreds of blood products to local hospitals on a daily basis. The Blood Connection, your community blood center, has been doing that since 1962 — managing a complicated web of logistics to help save lives.
With dozens of ongoing blood drives, 10 collection centers, 50 mobile blood collection buses, couriers rushing blood donations to area hospitals and medical centers before rushing back to the two-story headquarters in Piedmont, the blood center’s operations require constant oversight and is open 24 hours a day.
The command center
Overseeing these operations is TBC’s production planning office — the “command center.” In a secluded room, six flat-screen televisions dominate a wall, displaying a steady stream of data on everything from blood drives to units of product collected.
Those “products” are whole blood — what most people imagine when they think of donating blood — as well as plasma, platelets and red blood cells. They’ll be redistributed to every hospital in the Upstate to patients whose lives depend on them.
TBC President and CEO Delisa English says it’s a delicate balance. “The demand never stops,” English says. “It’s a constant reminder that on the other side of requests from local hospitals are patients who rely on us for life-saving blood products. It makes all the intense planning and logistics worth it.”
The moment one donates blood, a journey begins. The blood is taken back to TBC headquarters, where it’s tested and processed in-house. When hospitals call, products are quickly driven to their final destination.
The couriers often meet the very people the blood center is serving — the last link in the chain. “Especially at the cancer centers, they love to talk to us, thank us for helping,” says Sheridan Copeland, a courier for five years. “We all love what we do. We take it really seriously.”
Downstairs in the testing lab, specialist Blake Lawson’s job as “mystery solver” is outside the usual journey that blood products go through. He’s handling a special case — and if he fails, a woman’s life and the life of her unborn child could be on the line.
Lawson has only one piece of evidence: a vial of blood. These are the cases that hospitals can’t solve on their own.
And when any mistake could have deadly consequences, hospitals rely on resources like Lawson. In his current case, a pregnant mother might have antibodies in her blood that are attacking her unborn child.
“I’ve got to divide and conquer,” Lawson says. “But here’s how I look at it: Someone is in need of a life-saving thing,” he says. “And I’m a small part in saving their life. Just one small piece. But from start to finish here in TBC, I’m one of those little cogs that says: Here’s how I can help you save your life.”
So he gets to work, confident that soon enough, he’ll have found it — that perfect recipe on how to save a life.